Diversity-Driven Alphabet Spinout Plexo Capital Closes On $42.5 Million Fund

By Amit Chowdhry ● Dec 8, 2019
  • Plexo Capital, a diversity-driven venture capital firm that is investing in emerging VC funds, announced that it closed on a $42.5 million fund

Plexo Capital — a venture capital firm that is investing in emerging VC funds and in early-stage companies around the world — announced recently that it closed on a $42.5 million fund. The investors include Alphabet (parent company of Google), Intel Capital, Cisco Investments, the Royal Bank of Canada, Kapor Capital, the Hampton University Endowment, and the Ford Foundation. 

Plexo Capital was originally incubated inside GV (formerly known as Google Ventures) as part of GV’s strategy to foster diversity in venture capital. And GV continues to source deals through the Plexo Capital venture capital network, including Blavity (an LA-based media company created by and for black millennials).

“The Plexo Capital strategy was born out of the desire for a larger consideration set of potential deals at GV,” said Lo Toney, the Founding Managing Partner of Plexo Capital and former GV partner. “Our thesis is that women and people of color inherently have differentiated networks and a different lens to evaluate deals. This is very important at the seed stage, as it leads to a deal flow that is differentiated, and enables us to pursue deals that require an intimate understanding of certain problems or market opportunities in the absence of an abundance of data. Women and people of color bring this to the table.”

In an interview with Crunchbase, Toney said that 60% to 65% of the capital will be deployed as an LP into venture capital funds that emphasize investments in companies led by either a woman or a person of color. And the remainder will be invested directly into companies that it sources from the portfolios of those funds.

By utilizing the ability to invest directly in companies and in VCs along with the ability to partner on deals with later-stage venture funds who have invested in Plexo Capital, the Plexo Capital platform operates across the entire capital stack of the global venture ecosystem.

“One of our aims at GV is to increase access to differentiated deal flow,” added David Krane, GV CEO and Managing Partner. “In 2018, Lo and I worked together to build this strategy into an independent fund. We’re proud of everything Lo and his team are building at Plexo Capital, and we’re excited to see the impact of this work with a diverse set of investors and entrepreneurs.”

Plexo Capital is also known for supporting portfolio companies by cultivating a network of experts for driving growth in product, design, brand, UX, and customer acquisition. Plexo has invested in 19 venture funds and directly into 14 companies so far such as PlayVS (an LA-based company that offers an infrastructure for esports training programs offered to high schools). And Plexo also invests in a number of international organizations like iSono in Puerto Rico and Ingressive Capital in Lagos, Nigeria.

“We believe that talent is equitably distributed, but opportunity is not. It is precisely because of this reality that we at the Ford Foundation are proud to be an early investor in this fund. Ensuring equitable access to capital is essential for building an inclusive and vibrant economy,” explained Roy Swan, Director of Mission Investments at the Ford Foundation.

Rob Salvagno of Cisco Investments agreed with Swan’s sentiments and said that increasing diversity among startups and its investment portfolio has become a major priority. And Intel Capital vice president & senior managing director Trina Van Pelt said that her firm’s investment in Plexo was designed for enabling earlier access to capital for innovative startups that are led by women and underrepresented minorities.

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